Sunday, January 29, 2012

7 Creative Ways to Store Your Shoes

shoe rack shaped like tulip buds

Shoe racks, shoe boxes, shoe pocket organizers — are those all too boring for you? Then you just might like these shoe tree tulips, designed by Anna Fankhaenel and sold by Freundliche Übernahme and Design-3000. [via Book of Joe] Update on Sept. 13, 2012: Design-3000 no longer sells these.

kid's shoe rack with elephant motif

Looking for a cute way to store some children's shoes? Then look at the bunny, elephant and frog shoe racks at My Sweet Muffin. You can adjust the height between the tiers. [via Apartment Therapy]

shoe stacker for a pair of women's shoes
shoe stacker for a pair of men's shoes

Just want an easy way to make better use of your shoe storage space? The men's and women's shoe organizers from Vinçon might be exactly what you need. Update on March 27, 2013: I'm no longer finding this product on the Vinçon website.

black shoe tree with 12 boxes, 6 turquoise and 6 black

But if you're looking for a really fun storage piece, take a look at the Shoe Tree Z and Shoe Tree T at Fashion for Home — and give thanks to Dutch designer Mark Hark. The shoe tree itself comes in white or black; the 12 boxes that fit into it come in white, black, red, turquoise and violet. (However, I'm only seeing the black and white boxes on the U.S. site; the Netherlands site has all five colors.)

modular shoe cabinet

Fashion for Home also sells a modular shoe cabinet, available in three sizes (Set I, Set IV and Set VI); the shoe boxes are optional. The smallest version will hold 12 shoe boxes; the largest will hold 44. Update on Sept. 13, 2012: I'm no longer finding Set 1, but I'm finding others: Set II, Set III and Set V.

slim space-saving shoe cabinet

And Fashion for Home has yet another option: this space-saving cabinet called Spinn. However, I don't see it on the U.S. site.

redwood shoe cubbies

Finally, while shoe cubbies aren't all that unusual, having them made from redwood certainly is. These are Mia's Shoe Cubbies from Forever Redwood; they come in five different sizes. (Custom sizes are available, too.) And you can get them with three rows, all the same height — or two rows, where the bottom row is twice as tall as the upper one, to accommodate boots. Three grades of redwood are available, including one that's all reclaimed wood — and two other woods are also available, including another reclaimed-wood option.

Related Posts:
The Definitive Guide: 15 Ways to Store the Shoes
Stashing the Shoes: Yet More Options
Fancy-Schmancy Shoe Storage for Your Closet
Storing Shoes of All Shapes and Sizes

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Bookend Menagerie — and More

cat bookends, green

Cats make terrible bookends. — Nora O'Neill, on The Bookshop Blog

Once you've decided which books are worth keeping, you'll want to look at good ways to store the keepers. Sometimes, that involves bookends.

And while cats don't make good bookends, cat-shaped bookends can work just fine, as Limor Yaron demonstrates. Although these bookends come from Israel, they're readily available to those of us living elsewhere through the wonders of Etsy.

lion bookends

Want some larger cats? Have a lot of money to spend on bookends? Here are some lion bookends from Fornasetti.

goat bookends

Prefer a different animal? Take a look at the Pulpo Stubborn Goat bookends, sold directly by Pulpo and on other sites, such as Occa-Home. Update on July 5, 2015: I'm no longer finding these on the Pulpo website.

brontosaurus bookends

But perhaps you'd rather have a brontosaurus — or one of the many other wonderful bookends from Knob Creek Metal Arts.

elephant bookends, nickel

And then there are the elephant bookends from Philippi, sold at a number of web sites (including Occa-Home).

bunny bookends

Restoration Hardware has provided some wonderful bookends in the past — and continues to do so with these bunny bookends. [via Ink + Wit]

bookend that says That's All Folks

And of course, bookends don't have to feature animals. This bookend come from Goodwin + Goodwin in the U.K.; you can also get one that says The End in a similar script. You can find them at Bouf.

Related Posts:
Nice Bookends Don't Have to Cost $685
Treat Your Books to Some Nice Bookends: The Elephant Edition
Bookends for Those Who Haven't Totally Converted to the Kindle, Nook or iPad
5 Bodacious Bookends
For Book Lovers: Fun and Functional Bookends

Monday, January 23, 2012

Decluttering the Bookshelves: 7 People Share Their Stories and Insights

Photo by dolescum / Anne G, licensed under Creative Commons

Are you suffering from overstuffed bookshelves — or books laying around everywhere, not on any shelves? Here are some encouraging words from a variety of sources to help inspire you to deal with all those books.

It's not easy, but it's necessary:
Painful task: getting rid of books (as I did yesterday). Like severing friendships. But shelf space is finite, and new friends arrive. — Alexander McCall Smith, on Twitter

OK, sometimes it IS easy. Many of us have books we can quickly say goodbye to:
Outdated business books — I never liked you in the first place. Who needs two copies of Naked Conversations? Out.

Outdated computer programming and computer reference books — I have no lingering, nostalgic affection for you. Out. — Dave Coustan, Purging and De-cringing a Bookshelf

Here's how one person got rid of some knitting books:
Part of this was just being pragmatic: paring down books that basically repeated information I have in other, more frequently used books. Some had patterns I once thought I’d make but no longer fancied — and, in some cases, couldn’t imagine why on earth I thought that was a good look in the first place. ...

I also realized that I acquired a number of these books at a time when there weren’t so many knitting websites around. Now I can get a lot of these patterns — or similar ones — online. Or I can check the books out of the library. — Julia Smillie, Purging

You can tackle the bookshelf-decluttering project in small bites:
We're decluttering our books, one shelf at time. — SueBK

You can (almost) always find the books again, if need be:
Getting rid of books does not remove them from the universe. Have faith in libraries, bookstores (new & used), & swappers. Donate some now. — Discardia, on Twitter

Just got rid of a ton of legacy-format books. If I ever want them again (unlikely), I'll re-buy electronic versions. — Fraser Spiers, on Twitter.

You really don't have to finish every book you begin:
Sure, sometimes a book is bad. More likely, though, the book is a misfit, at least for this time and place in the reader's life. Neither reader nor writer has failed; the two are simply mismatched. ...

In her reading memoir, So Many Books, So Little Time, Sara Nelson calls deciding to allow yourself to stop reading a book "a rite of passage in a reader's life." It is, she says, "the moment at which you can look at yourself and announce: Today I am an adult. I can make my own decisions." — Cynthia Crossen, Wall Street Journal, via NomdeB

Related Posts:
Book Lovers: Stop Reading Books You Don't Like
Clearing Out the Bookshelves
3 Perspectives: Not All Books Are Keepers
Moving Books Along to Their Next Home
Books: Weeding the Collection
Is It Time to Bid Adieu to Some of Your Books?
Purging the Book Collection: The Nonfiction Edition
It's OK to Give Up on a Book

Friday, January 20, 2012

Plastic Grocery Bags Put to Good Reuse

Photo by mtsofan / John, found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

Do you have a stash of plastic grocery bags?

Some places, like San Francisco, have partially banned stores from distributing these bags — and some stores such as Whole Foods have banned them on their own. And many people are pretty good about bringing their own tote bags — which some stores reward you for using.

But still, many people have a lot of these plastic bags hanging around. You could donate them to a group that does food giveaways — groups that give away food almost always need more bags, too. You could recycle them. Or you could use them to form wastebaskets or recycling bins!

frame that holds a plastic bag, making it a wastebasket

Easy Garbage from obj. studio in Spain "was born from this idea: a structure specially designed that holds any model of supermarket bag in order to use them as rubbish bag. This ... extends their useful service life." You can buy Easy Garbage at Un4Verde, where you have a choice of black or white — no red, at least right now. [via The Kitchn] Update on June 20, 2014: I'm no longer finding a place to buy this product.

frames holding plastic bags, used for recycling

Ben the Bin recycling bins are sold individually or in sets by Reestore in the U.K. They're made from 100% recycled plastic. Update on June 20, 2014: I'm only seeing these being sold in packs of 30, intended for schools.

waste basket that stores and uses plastic grocery bags

And finally, there's Urbano, designed and produced by Kevin McElroy — and manufactured from recycled plastic in the U.S. As Kevin explains, "This handy little waste basket both uses and stores the ubiquitous plastic grocery bags leftover from shopping." It's available in green and in black from UncommonGoods; it's gotten great reviews. It's also available at the IHCD store — IHCD being the Institute for Human Centered Design — which currently has four color choices.

Related post:
Binvention, from Sprout Design Ltd.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shredding Gets Easier — and Cuter


I'd bet 99% of shredders in U.S. homes are never used. — Joe, from the bookofjoe blog

Most shredders are ugly, brutish, and short, not to mention noisy and messy. — Peter Lewis, CNNMoney

If Joe is right, and you're one of the 99%, perhaps you could use a better — and easier-to-use — shredder. I haven't yet tried them myself, but the Swingline Stack-and-Shred shredders sure seem to fit the easy-to-use description. While you can still feed in a few individual sheets, you can also just lift the lid, insert a stack of papers, close the lid, and start shredding. You don't need to remove staples or paper clips, either. They come in five sizes, from ones that handle 60 sheets of paper at a time to those that handle 500. And addressing Peter's concerns, Swingline says they are quiet, too. Although these shredders are not cheap, Swingline says they provide "a better way to shred." [via Popgadget]

shredders in green, pink, white and black

But what if your concern is more about that "ugly" part? I've mentioned some pretty nice-looking shredders before, but if you're into cute, let's look to Meiko, a Japanese company that makes a number of shredders. The cute one is called SE.CU.MO — and unlike some other cute shredders, it doesn't just create strips; it shreds the papers into tiny pieces. It comes in four colors, and you can buy it here, here, and here. [via Steve Levenstein at InventorSpot]

Related Posts:
A Simple Shredder
Staples MAILMATE Shredder
Oddest Shredder Ever
Paper Shredders Don't Have to be Boring
Update: Six More Shredder Options
Shredders With Style
Shredders: Getting a Good One
Paper Shredders: From Furry to Functional to Fantastic
Defining Your Own "What I Need to Shred" Policy

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Sentimental Stuff: A Photo or Portrait Can Sometimes Replace a Thing

child holding artwork
Photo by Noah Scalin, found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

Children's artwork, a special outfit, a favorite toy — these can all be hard to part with. Sometimes the answer is not to part with them; as space allows, we can hold onto a reasonable number of sentimental items. But if you're getting too many of these items, sometimes the best answer is to take some photos and let the actual items go.

Rachel Meeks at Small Notebook has a great idea: when she picks her daughter up from art class, she takes a picture of her daughter holding her latest creation. And over at Parenthacks, Michelle suggests photographing the Lego creations; a series of these photos makes a nice display!

photo of an old stuffed hippo, hung on the wall

Another option is to bring in some professional help. Hippopota will provide a lovely portrait of a worn-out toy (from a child or a pet), a special article of clothing, or anything else you'd like to memorialize. [via the New York Times, found through Naomi Seldin Ramirez]

photo of old stuffed panda bear
photo of old stuffed panda bear, hanging on the wall

The Memento Works will also photograph of your special items and provide you with a stunning print, mounted or framed. [via Swiss Miss]

stuffed animal toy portrait

But maybe you'd prefer a painting rather than a photograph. Erin Chainani at First Friends will create a portrait of that favorite toy.

watercolor painting of old sweater

And if you have a favorite piece of clothing, Mark Hall-Patch of Ephemera Friends will a custom watercolor painting. [via Apartment Therapy]

Related Posts:
July 2007 Organizing Tips and More, with Alisha K. Ard's custom shoe portraits
The Sentimental Stuff: When Teddy is On His Last Legs, with Jennifer Maher's custom toy portraits

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Double-Duty Hooks Provide a Little Extra Storage

combination hook and cubby, shaped like the at sign

Now here's an interesting idea: a combination hook and storage cubby for small items. It's such a good idea that a number of such products have been designed. The one above, the @ entry hook, comes from Chiasso; it's made of die-cast aluminum. Update on May 20, 2013: has acquired the rights to the Chiasso brand, and doesn't seem to carry this product.

combination coat hook and storage for other small items

A second option is the shed coat hook from Domesticity, made of powder coated steel and available in orange, grey and white. [via Switched On Set]

hook and cubby combination, with scarf and purse draped over the hook
hook and cubby combination, with miscellaneous small items in the cubbies

And then there's the hooknook from Flip & Tumble, made from 50% recycled polypropylene and available in three colors. [via Cool Mom Picks]

Another such product that got a lot of attention in the design world is the Cubby, but the designers have not yet found a manufacturer. When they do, I'll let you know! Update on Nov. 24, 2012: You can now, finally, buy the Cubby.

Related post, with another hook/cubby combination:
The Hook Box Hits the U.S.

Other posts in the current "hook" series:
Back to Basics: Organizing with Simple Hooks
Using the Alphabet: Hooks with Letters
Hooks with Moose, Birds, Bats, Cats and Other Critters
A Special Kind of Hook: Leash Holders

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Special Kind of Hook: Leash Holders

yellow bone-shaped leash holder

Leash holders with dog (or other animal) themes can be used for more than leashes, of course. Use them for those leashes — or for all sorts of other things, from car keys to baseball caps to necklaces.

And there sure are some nice ones out there! The yellow bone leash holder above is sold by Up Country; there's also a red one, with a slightly different design.

bone-shaped dog leash hook, in paisley
bone-shaped dog leash hook

More wonderful dog leash hooks with a bone theme are available from My Spoiled Doggie.

leash holder, personalized with dog's name, bone-shaped

And then there's the personalized bone-shaped hook made by Whitehall, made from recycled non-rusting cast aluminum. It's sold all over: Grandin Road, Plow & Hearth and many more sites. It comes in four finishes, although not all sites offer all the finishes.

dog leash holder with porcelain tile that says Arf

Of course, a leash holder doesn't have to be bone-shaped. For Love of a Dog has a number of different handmade dog leash holders with porcelain tiles.

This is just one of the delightful leash hooks from these creatures; it's available in three colors.

Scotty-dog-shaped lead / leash holder

And then there are the dog-breed hooks. East of India makes this Scotty dog lead holder, found at Isabel's Attic.

two leash holders and one pegboard with English mastiffs

Finally, while the leash holders and pegboards from Beyond the Crate are a bit too cutesy for me, I was delighted to see the range of dogs they include. I always look for English mastiffs, after my friend Debbie Wolfe introduced me to the breed.

Related Post:
Reader Question: Pet Stuff Storage (Part 2: Hooks for Leashes)

Other posts in the current "hook" series:
Back to Basics: Organizing with Simple Hooks
Using the Alphabet: Hooks with Letters
Hooks with Moose, Birds, Bats, Cats and Other Critters

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hooks with Moose, Birds, Bats, Cats and Other Critters

Moose Coat Rack

Is this cute overload? I'm a sucker for stuff like this: Moose on the Loose, from All Lovely Stuff. You can also find it at The Collection and twentytwentyone. Update on Dec.  29, 2012: twentytwentyone no longer has this hook, but it has another one, with multiple animals, also from All Lovely Stuff.

birds and heart hooks - black

A number of wonderful (and very cute) hooks come from Domestic; this is the set of two birds (and one heart) designed by Rolito. You can also find them in black or white from La Corbeille, or from Smallable.

hooks with little critters - little black blobs with hands and feet
hooks with three indescribable critters

Domestic also has lacquered metal hooks by Geneviève Gauckler called Potatoe (yes, with an "e" at the end) — sold individually or in sets of three — and the set called Hang on to Yourself. These can also be found at La Corbeille and Smallable.

owl hooks

Barnvänligt of Sweden sells sleepy owl hooks; the web site currently has them available for purchase in blue and black. [via My Owl Barn]

gecko coat rack hook, black

I'm a gecko fan, so I'm especially delighted with the gecko coat rack from Artori, available from Design My World and Animi Causa.

bat hook

Among the many hooks from The HookLady you'll find this Victorian bat hook. [via The Cultivated Home]

cat hooks

These enamel cat hooks, on clearance sale at The Animal Rescue Site, come from Noah's Ark, "a company based in Moradabad, India that focuses on fair trade." (You can read more about Noah's Ark at Ten Thousand Villages.)

pewter bird hooks

Let's end with something simple and sweet: the pewter bird hooks from Beehive Kitchenware.

Related Posts with Animal-Themed Hooks:
Hooks: Organize with the Animals
Hooks to Hold Your Hat - Or Coat, or Towel, or Whatever

Other Posts in the current Hook Series:
Back to Basics: Organizing with Simple Hooks
Using the Alphabet: Hooks with Letters

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Using the Alphabet: Hooks with Letters

hooks with letters A B C

Hooks are such wonderful organizing tools — and I have so many cool ones to share — that I decided to turn this into a series. And today I'm focusing on hooks with individual letters — which could be used to spell out something, to distinguish what each hook is used for, or simply to look cool. The iron letter hooks above come from Restoration Hardware Baby & Child.

wrought iron hooks with letters A B C

Wrought Iron Haven is another source for iron letter hooks, in a somewhat different style.

alphabet hook, letters G L B

And Penelope Tom has alphabet letter hooks in "shabby vintage style" made from white-painted metal.

alphabet hooks - A B C

Anthropolgie's alphabet hooks provide a totally different look.

hook with the letter O

Whitehall makes the Cloister Monogram Hook, which you can find at Aspenberry and Greentagged. The filigree monogram hooks at Ballard Designs appear to be the same thing, although they aren't identified as such. Greentagged notes that "being environmental conscious is not a new concept at Whitehall Products. Since 1941, the products have been handcrafted from recycled materials - primarily aluminum." They come in three different finishes.

hooks with letters N and T

And finally, there are the lettres from Pêpin Le Malin. [via BabyGadget]

Other posts in the series:
Back to Basics: Organizing with Simple Hooks